American couple held in Bali after teen’s dead mother found in suitcase

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) — An American woman and her boyfriend have been taken into custody in connection with the killing of the woman’s mother, whose body was left inside a suitcase at a luxury hotel in Bali, Indonesia, police said.

The body of Sheila von Weise Mack, 62, was stuffed in a hard-sided gray suitcase at the prestigious St. Regis Bali Resort on Tuesday, said Djoko Hari Utomo, the police chief of Denpasar, the capital of Bali.

A forensic doctor at the hospital who examined Mack’s body said she had blunt force trauma wounds on her head and face. There were also bruises on her wrists and a broken nail, indicating that there may have been a struggle.

Her daughter, Heather Mack, and the daughter’s boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were later found sleeping in a hotel room in Kuta, according to Utomo. Kuta is a town about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the St. Regis.

Police have not named Mack and Schaefer as suspects, Utomo said. According to Indonesian law, police can keep the couple in custody for up to 24 hours before they are named as suspects. If named, they can be held up to 20 days.

Police said the couple told them that they had been taken captive at the resort Tuesday by an armed gang, whose members killed Sheila von Weise Mack, but they escaped, Trans TV reported.

However, hotel workers and the taxi driver who turned in the body to police gave a different version of events.

The taxi driver told police that Mack and Schaefer hailed him at the St. Regis, placing one bag in the trunk, Utomo said. They then reportedly went back into the hotel and did not return.

After two hours, the taxi driver said, he entered the hotel and spoke to employees, who went to the family’s rooms and found them empty, Trans TV reported.

When the taxi driver and a manager opened the trunk, they saw blood on the luggage and drove to a police station, Trans TV reported. Police opened the suitcase and found the woman’s body inside.

Two smaller suitcases were found in the St. Regis’ garden. Both contained hotel towels with blood on them, according to police.

Police said the woman was from Chicago, according to her passport. CNN could not immediately confirm her place of residence.

A profile of Mack published by The Caxton Club of Chicago (PDF) says she worked for Ted Kennedy, the late U.S. senator from Massachusetts, and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Saul Bellow for 10 years.

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